Dec. 24, 2013
The Big Ten completed a flawless 16-0 record last week, including a 12-0 mark over the weekend. On Saturday, the Big Ten won three one-possession games, including Illinois defeating #23/25 Missouri (65-64), Michigan outlasting Stanford (68-65) and Ohio State completing a late-game comeback to beat Notre Dame (64-61).
The Week Ahead:
Big Ten teams will be idle until Friday, Dec. 27, when an eight-game weekend slate tips off. Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State will compete in their final non-conference game before the start of Big Ten play on Dec. 31.
Three in Top Five For Third Straight Week:
The Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls were released on Monday, and the Big Ten was well-represented with four teams among the top 25, and three positioned in the top five. In the AP poll, Ohio State was ranked No. 3, followed by No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 22 Iowa, while Illinois and Michigan received votes. In the coaches' ballot, Ohio State was ranked No. 3, followed by No. 5 Michigan State, No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 23 Iowa. Illinois and Michigan also received votes in the coaches' ballot.
Ohio State and Wisconsin both remain unbeaten on the season after the Buckeyes defeated Notre Dame, 64-61 on Saturday to move to 12-0. Wisconsin upped its record to 12-0 with an 86-61 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 14, continuing the program's best start to a season during the modern era (since 1946). The Badgers did complete undefeated 15-0 seasons in 1911-12 and 1913-14.
Andre Hollins Joins 1,000-Point Club:
Minnesota's Andre Hollins poured in 18 points in the Golden Gophers' win over Nebraska-Omaha, becoming the seventh Big Ten player this season to join the 1,000-point club (1,012). Andre's teammate, Austin, also passed the 1,000-point plateau against South Dakota State on Dec. 10.
Where We Sit:
The Big Ten has not lost a game since Dec. 14, and all 12 conference teams enter this weekend's slate having won their last contest. Ohio State and Wisconsin are both out to 12-0 starts, Minnesota has won its last five games, Michigan State and Northwestern are both on three-game winning streaks, Indiana, Nebraska and Purdue have all won their last two contests and Illinois, Iowa and Michigan each won their most recent game.
Izzo Approaches Win #450:
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo enters Saturday's game against New Orleans with 449 career wins, just one shy of becoming the third active Big Ten mentor to collect at least 450 career victories. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan has won 686 games, while Michigan's John Beilein boasts 680 career wins.
Leading the Way:
Through games of Dec. 22, the Big Ten has seen a variety of players pacing the conference in many of the major statistical categories. Penn State's D.J. Newbill leads the Big Ten in scoring (18.9 ppg), Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh paces the conference in rebounding (9.5 rpg), Iowa's Aaron White is the Big Ten's leader in field goal percentage (.678), Penn State's Tim Frazier leads the conference in assists per game (7.5), Ohio State's Aaron Craft leads the Big Ten lead in steals per outing (2.6 spg), Michigan's Nik Stauskas is pacing the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage (.458) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons is the Big Ten's leader in blocks per game (3.8).
Crashing the Boards:
Indiana's Noah Vonleh has posted a Big Ten-best seven double-digit rebounding efforts, and enters this weekend's slate of games as the conference leader in rebounding (9.5 rpg). If he maintains the Big Ten lead through the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign, Vonleh would become the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in rebounding since Ohio State's Greg Oden, who averaged 9.6 rebounds per contest in 2006-07.
Filling it Up:
Big Ten teams have posted 65 efforts of 80 or more points during non-conference play, and enter this weekend averaging 77.7 points per game. During non-conference action last season, Big Ten teams averaged more than 73 points per game, over five points higher than the NCAA average.
The most recent version of the NCAA statistics were released on Monday, and several Big Ten teams were well-represented across an array of categories. Indiana led the nation in rebound margin (14.0), while Michigan State ranked second in assists per game (19.0). Ohio State ranked third in three-point field goal defense (.250), while Wisconsin was third in the country in fewest turnovers per game (9.1). Iowa was third in scoring margin (23.2), fourth in defensive field goal percentage (.367) and fifth in scoring offense (88.7 ppg).
Leaders of the Pack:
The Big Ten now has 12 active members of the 1,000-point club. Northwestern's Drew Crawford continues to lead the way with 1,600 career points, followed by Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble (1,333), Indiana's Evan Gordon (1,285), Michigan State's Keith Appling (1,282), Penn State's Tim Frazier (1,271), Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (1,192), Purdue's Terone Johnson (1,117), Ohio State's Aaron Craft (1,092), Iowa's Aaron White (1,049), Penn State's D.J. Newbill (1,043) and Minnesota's Austin Hollins (1,013) and Andre Hollins (1,013). Craft, Frazier, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Johnson, Rice and White all passed the 1,000-point plateau this season.
Pitinos to Collide in 2014-15 Season Opener:
It will be a family affair on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, when Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino and the Golden Gophers take on the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals, coached by Rick Pitino, Richard's father. It was announced this week that Minnesota and Louisville will open the 2014-15 season in the Armed Forces Classic at the U.S. Coast Guard's Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico. It will mark the second-ever clash between the son and father as head coaches.